Even before the first post by the Royal Enfield CEO Siddhartha Lal went up on the TOI website, the Royal Enfield Himalayan was breaking the internet. Too many automobile blogs were writing about the motorcycle publishing whatever they knew about the upcoming Royal Enfield. As far as I can figure out, nobody seemed to know anything of substance but when has that served as a deterrent?
I didn’t take a serious note of the motorcycle until the very first videos came out. You have to blame Royal Enfield for that. After making news for months, the last motorcycle they released was just as fast as the one they built 50 years ago despite the new one having an engine twice as big. No doubt the company has been on the right path for the past few years but still something like the Himalayan was much needed. Now that I have seen the motorcycle in flesh, I can’t help but put my plans to buy a new motorcycle on hold for this. Here is why:
#1. Huge step up for RE
A couple of days back, a friend asked me, “Long back Triumph used to make motorcycles similar to Royal Enfield. So why did RE decide to continue making the same machines while Triumph decided to make machines like the Street Triple and Tiger”. I was clueless. As far as I know, the Himalayan is the first motorcycle Royal Enfield has built from scratch in decades and the effort clearly shows. Even the costliest of Enfields felt like they would fall apart.
While the RE store manager didn’t allow me to take the Himalayan out for a ride, he did let me spend an hour with the motorcycle inside the showroom. This is the first RE that feels like it won’t fall apart. While they have continued with a long stroke engine, the OHV setup has made way for OHC, which means the engine won’t shake your limbs off even at high speeds.
The entire internet and my Royal Enfield dealer says that the Himalayan will be priced around INR 1.8 lac (USD 2700) and that appears to be good value for money. They have invested a shitload of money and many years in building this product and if we believe them, it is a capable product. The Continental GT is priced north of INR 2 lac and it doesn’t even remotely feels like a product worth that price tag. Add the fact that KTM Duke 390 retails for the same makes it look even worse. However, the equipment and spec sheet on Himalayan matches the price tag. Even if you like to measure performance by the numbers, they match any other motorcycle in the same bracket.
#3. First of its kind
A single cylinder adventure tourer is something we Indians haven’t heard of until now. The Himalayan is an attempt by Royal Enfield to create a new market segment in India and its success will pave the way for other manufacturers. One of the many reasons I would like to see this motorcycle gain traction in market is to see how other manufacturers follow. KTM, for instance, is known to make great adventure tourers. Imagine what they will do if they decide to make a move in this segment.
#4. Tailor made for India
Leaving the typical Bulleteer behind, Royal Enfield is now trying to cater to the proper bikers. People who love to ride and go great distances on their motorcycles. People who don’t just want a nice looking motorcycle but want something that they can push to the limits. And that is why they spent years extensively testing it in Indian conditions. If you head out on the highway often, you will understand how annoying it is to lose the momentum and crawl over the bad road sections that tire you out. Even if you ignore RE’s claims about Himalayan’s off-road capabilities, you can, at least, expect the motorcycle to be fast and less tiring on bad sections of the highway. And in India, that is the battle half won already. Add the fact that it has been kept simple (Read: No EFI or high tech computers) and it looks like something we have wanted for long.
#5. A new entry point
I love the Triumph Tiger. I have wanted one for long and while I am unable to do that because my pocket won’t allow, there are a large number of people who don’t do that because there is no stepping stone to it in India. Most people start off with some other segment. They will probably buy the CBR 250, upgrade to a Ninja 650 and then maybe consider a large adventure tourer if they aren’t too addicted to the idea of a sports tourer by now. The Royal Enfield Himalayan would set a new entry point for people who like adventure tourers and would probably want to upgrade to a Tiger Explorer or BMW 1200GS someday.
Do share what you think of this upcoming motorcycle by Royal Enfield.